Regulatory Action against David Steenblock, D.O. (1993-1994)


Stephen Barrett, M.D.
March 31, 2004

In 1991, as noted below, David Alan Steenblock, D.O., of San Clemente, California, was charged with negligence in connection with two patients he had treated. One was a seriously ill 13-year-old girl who he saw over a 5-month period and allegedly misdiagnosed, mistreated, and failed to refer to a specialist. The other was a man who he allegedly treated with adrenal cortical extract for a complaint of fatigue. In 1994, the case was settled with a stipulation under which he agreed to serve five years of probation, pay $10,000 for costs, and take extra continuing education courses in pharmacology, medical charting, and ethics.

In 1997, Steenblock was charged with violating his probation by not paying the $10,000 assessment and by using three unlicensed “physical therapy assistants” to administer patient services. (In 1997, the employees were convicted of practicing physical therapy without a license.) In 2000, after Steenblock had aid the $10,000 and hired a licensed physical therapist to supervise the others, the board assessed another $3,500 toward costs but decided not to penalize him “aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of physical therapy.” The proceedings also had the effect of extending his probation for three months (to March 28, 2000).

Today, Steenblock runs the Brain Cell Therapeutic Clinic, in Mission Viejo, California, which offers many types of unsubstantiated treatments for chronic diseases. The clinic’s Web site states that Steenblock “has devoted many years to research in the fields of biochemistry, pathology, nerve and muscle physiology, cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging.” Yet a Medline search shows that his only mainstream journal publications were three co-authored articles about clotting factors in dogs and guinea pigs—all published in the late 1960s when he worked as a laboratory research assistant during his osteopathic training.


BEFORE THE
BOARD OF OSTEOPATHIC EXAMINERS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In the Matter of the Accusation Against:
 
DAVID STEENBLOCK, D.O.
3805 Via Manzana

San Clemente, CA 92672
 
Osteopathic No. 20A 4160

      Respondent.

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NO. 91-1
 
AMENDED
ACCUSATION

Complainant Linda J. Bergmann, who as cause for disciplinary action, alleges:

PARTIES

1. Complainant is the Executive Director of the California State Board of Osteopathic Examiners (“Board”) and makes and files this accusation solely in her official capacity.

License Status

2. On or about August 3, 1977, Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon License No. 20A 4160 was issued by the Board to David Steenblock, D.O. (“respondent”), and at all times relevant herein, said Osteopathic was, and currently is, in full force and effect.

JURISDICTION

3. This accusation is made in reference to the following statutes of the California Business and Professions Code (“Code”): Section 3600, a provision of the Osteopathic Act,

a. Stats. 1933, c. 399, p. 1298, § 3600, provides that the law governing licentiates of the Board is found in the Osteopathic Act and in Chapter 5 of Division II, §§ 2000 et seq. of the Code, relating to Medicine.

b. Section 3600-2, a provision of the Osteopathic Act, provides that the Board shall enforce those provisions of the Medical Practice Act identified as Articles 12, of Chapter 5 of Division II of the Code, as now existing or hereafter amended, as to persons who hold certificates subject to the jurisdiction of the Board.

c. Section 2227 provides that the Board may revoke, suspend for a period not to exceed one year, or place on probation, the license of any licensee who has been found guilty under the Medical Practice Act.

4. Section 2234 provides the Board shall take action against any licensee for unprofessional conduct which includes but is not limited to the following:

“(b) Gross negligence.
“(c) Repeated negligent acts.
“(d) Incompetence.”

FACTS

Patient Ariann W.

5. On or about September 6, 1988, this thirteen-year-old patient went to respondent’s medical office with a complaint of “emotional diarrhea”, “all day small meals-slow weight gain”, and coated tongue and corner lips cracked”. The patient was examined briefly and several tests were ordered.

On or about September 7, 1988, the patient completed a detailed health questionnaire. The health questionnaire stated the patient had three bowel movements per day, had bad breath, had nervous stomach, was sensitive to cold and was abused from birth until she was adopted when she was eight-years-old.

On or about September 12, 1988, the patient made a return visit. On this visit, it was noted that patient’s diarrhea was extremely worse, the patient “had to go almost every 10 minutes”, and the problem was life-threatening. It was also noted that the patient’s father had colitis and that the patient bled around the rectum from irritation.

On or about September 13, 1988, the patient made a return visit. On this visit, it was noted the patient was small and cachectic; that the patient’s mouth was totally covered with white plaque of candida, and that the patient had “clubbing of all fingernails”. Thereafter, the patient made one additional visit in September 1988, and one visit in October 1988.

The patient was next seen on January 16, 1989, when respondent prescribed Vitaplex, Zinc, GTF, Sialex and Nizoral. On the January 17, 1989 visit, respondent ordered a barium enema. Thereafter the patient made one more visit in January 1989, and two visits in early February 1989.

On or about February 4, 1989, the patient was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Orange County and after a number of surgical operations, the patient died on or about June 20, 1989.

CHARGES

6. Respondent David A. Steenblock is guilty of gross negligence in violation of Business and Professions Code section 2234(b) with respect to the care and treatment he rendered to Ariann W. for the following reasons:

a. Respondent failed to recognize advanced illness in an adolescent;
b. Respondent failed to refer patient with an advanced illness to an appropriate specialist;
c. Respondent failed to diagnose the actual cause for the patient’s advanced anemia;
d. Respondent failed to treat in a timely fashion a patient with an advanced illness;
e. Respondent.failed to warn a patient of the possible side effects of injectable iron.

7 . Respondent David A. Steenblock is guilty of incompetence in violation of section 2234(d) of the Code with respect to the care and treatment he rendered to patient Ariann W. for the following reasons.

a. Complainant realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraph 6 above;
b. Respondent failed to complete physical examination and to direct the physical examination to appropriate organ system;
c. Respondent failed to correlate physical findings with patient complaints;
d. Respondent failed to document physical findings on a patient’s chart;
e. Respondent used unrecognized therapies in the treatment of a patient with an advanced illness.

8. Respondent David A. Steenblock is guilty of repeated negligent acts in violation of section 2234(c) by virtue of each matter set forth in paragraphs 6 and 7 above.

II

FACTS

Patient James C.

9. In May of 1986, James C. became a patient of respondent David A. Steenblock. He was seen several times between May and September 1986.

On September 12, 1986, respondent performed a colonoscopy on James C. The colonoscopy extended to the cecum. The only documentation in the chart with respect to the colonoscopy is that it was performed. Respondent made no record as to whether anesthesia was administered, or what the patient’s vital signs were during the procedure. There was no documentation as to the type of instrument used or how the patient tolerated the procedure.

The patient record for James C. indicates administration of “IV therapy” on September 25, 29; October 1, 3, 9, 10, 13, 16, 20, 23, and 24, 1986. There is no documentation in the patient’s chart as to the purpose of the IV therapy, nor. any diagnosis justifying its use.

The patient record for James C. indicates the administration of cortical extract for a complaint of fatigue. There is no documentation in the patient’s chart of any adrenal insufficiency.

CHARGES

10. Respondent David A. Steenblock was guilty of committing repeated acts of negligence in violation of Business and Professions Code section 2234(c), in his treatment of James C. for the following reasons:

a) Respondent failed to administer anesthesia in connection with a colonoscopy to the cecum, or alternatively failed to keep any record of the administration of such anesthesia;
b) Respondent failed to document adequately the type of instrument used for colonoscopy, the type of anesthesia, if any, or the vital sings of the patient during the procedure;
c) Respondent administered IV therapy without documentation as to the purpose of that IV therapy or the diagnosis which justified its use;
d) Respondent administered adrenal cortical extract when there was no documentation of adrenal insufficiency.

11. Respondent David A. Steenblock is guilty of incompetence in violation of Business and Professions Code section 2234(d) by virtue of each matter set forth in paragraph 9 above.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, complainant requests that the Board hold a hearing on the matters alleged herein, and that following said hearing, the Board issue a decision:

  1. Revoking or suspending Osteopathic Number 20A4160, heretofore issued to respondent David Steenblock, D.O.;
  2. Directing respondent David Steenblock, D.O. to pay to the Board a reasonable sum for its investigative and enforcement costs of this action; and
  3. Taking such other and further action as the Board deems appropriate to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

DATED: August 19, 1993

Linda J. Bergman
Executive Director
Board of Osteopathic Examiners State of California

Complainant


BEFORE THE
BOARD OF OSTEOPATHIC EXAMINERS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In the Matter of the Accusation Against:
 
DAVID STEENBLOCK, D.O.
3805 Via Manzana

San Clemente, CA 92672

License No. 20A 4160

      Respondent.

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NO. 91-1
 
STIPULATION IN
SETTLEMENT AND DECISION

Linda J. Bergmann, Executive Director of the Board of Osteopathic Examiners of the State of California, by and through her attorney, Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General of the State of California, by Samuel K. Hammond, Deputy Attorney General, and David Steenblock, D.O. (“respondent”), by and through his attorney William H. Moore, Jr. Esq., hereby stipulate as follows:

1. The Board of Osteopathic Examiners, (“Board”) acquired jurisdiction over respondent by reason of the following:

A. Respondent was duly served with a copy of the Amended Accusation, Statement to Respondent, Request for Discovery, Form Notice of Defense and copies of Government Code sections 11507.5, 11507.6 and 11507.7 as required by section 11503 and 11